X-Body – what happens when you mix workouts and electricity

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Ever wanted to workout looking like an extra in a sci-fi movie; now’s your chance as X-Body has arrived in the UK. You might remember I told you on the healthelen facebook page that I’d tried a workout that involved electricity, well this was it and it was…..interesting.

Already huge in Europe this is one example of a type of workout called EMS training – EMS standing for electro muscle stimulation – the theory behind this is if, as well as moving muscles yourself while you workout by doing toning moves like squats etc, you add the effect of a machine toning them too you get a double workout whammy. As such, they say, you only need to exercise for 20 minutes and, it’s claimed two sessions of this a week would be equivalent to six hours of normal exercise. Yep, you can imagine how fast I was asking to try this one can’t you.

So, a few weeks ago I found myself in a room at London’s very lovely The Library Club in Covent Garden wearing a black t-shirt and cycling shorts waiting to don a version of the fetching suit above. ‘I’m just going to wet the pads’ said Mark, the trainer….erm, hang on. I’m no physicist, but water and electricity? I do recall various warnings about that at school. I suppose the fact that I’m here and typing tells you all was okay, it seems the dampness helps conduct the mild current through the fabric better but still, nervous much!!!  I then stepped into the suit and the pads were aligned along the correct muscles, I was plugged in (again, can you say sudden surge of panic!) and I began a workout strapped to what feels like a giant wearable Slendertone machine.

To start with they turned it quite low – it feels quite tingly and while it’s not exactly relaxing, it wasn’t unpleasant and it was certainly not painful. The current to each muscle was then adjusted separately to the maximum point between ‘I can feel that’ and ‘turn that off it hurts’  I then went through a variety of different moves – squats, lunges, side bends etc – combining the movement with the electrical stimulation. Well, in theory anyway – the problem is, when you’re as adverse to stretching as I am your muscles are generally quite tight and my glutes particularly do like to cramp up now and again. It’s extremely painful when it happens and as such I try and avoid that situation. The muscle stimulation was making them feel extremely tight from the get go and as such, when I started doing moves like kickbacks, I didn’t work as hard as I think I would have done not strapped to the suit – I also found that my right tricep was also painfully contracted when I tried to do the arm moves and as such I wimped out on those too.

I think that was why, even though I’d been told by other people that I’d ache the next day, I actually didn’t feel anything – which, considering my lack of strength training at the moment made me wonder exactly how much I’d achieved. Personally, right now I think I’d be better just doing a decent weights workout for a change (with a good stretch afterwards) and maybe coming back to X-Body when I had some muscles for it to tone. I’ve also heard from another trainer whose worked with the machine that perhaps, the current was turned up a bit too high for me right now, and that maybe taking it more gently would actually have got a better result.  It was a fun workout though and, the fact that you really do have to concentrate on when to inhale and exhale (to coincide with when the stimulation occurs) meant it actually flew by rather fast.

Right now, there aren’t a lot of machines in the UK – though expect to start seeing them in boutique gyms soon – but to book a session in Covent Garden, sessions cost £40 a time, and you can contact Mark and Transform Me through the Library club, at http://www.lib-rary.com/wellness/.

Oh, and just to amuse you, here’s a picture of me in the suit (note to self, stop speaking when people are taking photos of you).

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Hello...hello...is this thing on? Talk to me, it's lonely down here

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